Jamey Johnson is known for his unparalleled ability to bring you to your knees with emotion-packed lyrics. His performance at 2018’s Farm Aid was no different. He gave a performance of “In Color” that went above and beyond. You won’t be able to watch this without feeling your heart crumble under the weight of his echoing words.
Supporting family farms with @WillieNelson , @johnmellencamp , @Neilyoung , @davematthewsbnd and all of the artists performing at @FarmAid .#FarmAid2018. https://t.co/2XCWzTEktn pic.twitter.com/W4ymq2r65I
— Jamey Johnson (@jamey_johnson) August 17, 2018
Johnson wrote “In Color” with country songwriter heavyweights James Otto and Lee Thomas in the early 2000s. The slow-burning ballad tells of an old man’s life through black and white pictures. From surviving the great depression and serving his country in WWII to the day he was married – each photo is a snippet of time that has a colorful story behind it.
With each image, the old man recounts to his grandson that, “If it looks like we were scared to death/ Like a couple of kids just trying to save each other/ You should’ve seen it in color.”
Johnson’s video for the song was a tribute to the life and memory of Hank Cochran, a pioneer of the country music industry. He was the well known and loved among the community and wrote for legends like Patsy Cline, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson.
The nostalgic memories listed throughout the lyrics could bring even the strongest person to their knees. Just the recollection of being a young kid sitting cross-legged on the floor, listening to the stories of our loved one’s past will pierce your soul.
As if the lyrics themselves didn’t pack enough punch, his 2018 performance at Farm Aid in Hartford, Connecticut brought an eerily painful quality to the song. Standing on stage with his long hair and beard draping over his shoulders – he had the crowd spellbound by his riveting presence.
As he patiently strums his legend-signed guitar, there is such a strong level of emotion behind his grizzly voice. As he finishes the verse about the old man’s time in WWII, he trails off into an echoing guitar solo that gives us a moment to remember all those who have selflessly put their lives on the line for our freedom.
The performance picks up as he continues on and there is a sense of suspense that comes over the crowd as he nears the end of the song. Just as you thought he couldn’t make the act any better- he stops playing guitar to let his voice boom throughout the theatre for the final lines of the last chorus.
Johnson definitely has a way with words and knows how to draw you into his music with his spirit-swallowing stage presence. You can watch him channel his deepest emotions in the video below but be ready to be ambushed by your own nostalgic memories. Feel free to share your own favorite family story that would have been better “in color” in the comments.